By Sarah Rafique
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD — Col. Cory A. Mendenhall is excited to be back in Texas.
The incoming commander of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade visited the state in 1992 for training and continued to serve in the Army around the world.
About a week ago, he moved to Fort Hood from Qatar with his wife and twin boys, where he served as deputy chief of staff for U.S. Central Command.
"The people in Texas are very unique and it's a very prideful state," Mendenhall said. "It was something that I was drawn to because it reminded me so much of home (in North Idaho)."
Maj. Gen. Anthony Ierardi, 1st Cavalry Division commander, said the Army selected Mendenhall to lead the brigade because he is an officer of impeccable capability, experience and character.
"He comes with a background rich in operational experience and in serving in the toughest assignments in challenging conditions," Ierardi said. "He is unquestionably the right officer to lead the Warrior Brigade as it resets and prepares for future missions to come."
Mendenhall said the environment of the world is dynamic right now, and his troopers need to be prepared and aware of them.
This year, the brigade completed an important mission in the nation's defense, supporting the entire theater of Afghanistan, including NATO and Afghan forces, said Ierardi.
"The brigade was task organized and operated magnificently in every respect and met every expectation," he said, crediting the safe and successful mission of the Warrior Brigade to outgoing commander Col. John E. Novalis II and outgoing Command Sgt. Maj. Glen Vela.
"They inspired and led the troops in the toughest conditions," Ierardi said.
Novalis said the foundation for a successful leader is composed of three components: strength in God, family and soldiers. He also thanked the soldiers for supporting him.
"You are the kindest and most patriotic people I have ever met," he said. "I'm extremely humbled to have served with you and this unit. You make me proud to wear this uniform and the First Team patch."
Mendenhall's top priority is to continue that tradition of having the brigade mission-ready. "We have to be ready to go with the equipment and the people that we have," he said.
He also emphasized the need for empathy in a leader.
"You have to understand what these young soldiers and family members go through," he said. "If you don't have empathy for what your guys do, it's very hard and you become detached from them."
The first thing he expects to do on the job is get to know the people.
"I want to know what their challenges are, what their goals and aspirations are," he said. "I want to be there to help."
Contact Sarah Rafique at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7549.